3-legged stool to illustrate 3 principles of good SEO

Succeed on Google with 3 Basic SEO Principles

3-legged stool to illustrate 3 principles of good SEO

For Function and Simplicity, Nothing Beats a Three Legged Stool

Anyone who is familiar with my newsletter knows that I’m a big fan of keeping things ultra simple. Most of my connections on LinkedIn are C-suite executives like me who value the briefest explanation possible.

So here is a quick overview of 3 guiding principles that will get you the most visibility on Google. It’s what’s we teach in our digital marketing courses as the 3 pillars of SEO.

Relevance

What if you have a severe headache and you want to see what remedy Google can give you? So you type “best home headache remedy.” Now let’s pretend you get a page of results for home head cold remedies? Sure, the words are similar, but you’d be irritated (even more so because your head is hurting!) that Google isn’t giving you something that is…yes, you guessed it…RELEVANT to your search or your needs.

So Google prioritizes results that they feel are relevant to the searcher’s “intent” (in other words, what they really want, regardless of what words they use). Google has gotten pretty good at this over the years, by the way.

Relevance is determined by how well you write the content on your page. It has to be good quality, and structured the way Google wants to see it. We call this “content marketing.”

Also, you might want to do something called “on page optimization,” which goes a bit further in creating a relevant page.

Authority

Ok, so let’s stick with our headache example. Let’s say that you get a bunch of results that really do seem to be relevant to home headache remedies, but when you visit the pages you see that they are from very questionable sites. They might be full of ads, or perhaps they link you to dangerous and pornographic corners of the Internet. Well if you’re like me, you would also think that the search results were poor.

Knowing this, Google tries to show you websites that are authoritative to avoid getting you justly irritated. How do they do that?

Google has very sophisticated ways of looking at a given website and the sites that are linking TO that website. If your website is linked to by other websites that are high quality, with lots of sites linking to them, and (this bit is important) if the sites that are linking to your site have something to do with the subject of the page, then it helps you appear to have authority.

Getting more Authority is usually based on creating useful content that webmasters, online journalists and bloggers want to link to, along with outreach to make those people aware of it. We call that “link building,” although you can also think of it as link “earning.”

Technical Stuff

Ok, finally we come to the toughest bit of this. And here’s where having someone working for you, whether a contractor or an employee, who knows the technology of SEO and how Google works is extremely important.

To determine if your site is relevant and authoritative, Google needs to “crawl” all over your website with their analytical programs (a part of the mechanics of this is those programs that SEOs call “spiders” or “bots” or “crawlers” … although that’s only part of it). There are all sorts of things you can do to a website (usually accidentally) to make it confusing to Google. If you want Google to give you the best results, they need to easily understand your site. We call this “Search Engine Friendliness,” or SEF. This is not the same as SEO, but you can’t have S E O without S E F.

How do You Know if You’re Getting the Best SEO?

If you are working with an SEO company, or even in-house staff, make sure they can explain each of these three pillars of SEO to you and how they are addressing them. If they struggle to give you an explanation you, as an executive, can understand, then they probably don’t understand it themselves.

And while we’re adjacent to the subject of how to hire an SEO, here’s a video from former Googler Maile Ohye about “how to hire an SEO” that is as useful today as it was in 2017.

More Tips Like This Are Coming to You Soon!

The above explanation and tips come from my soon-to-be-published book, The CFO’s Guide to Demystifying Internet Marketing. The complete book addresses a need I’ve been aware of for years in business, especially for my colleagues who are extremely busy executives: a resource that can bridge the gap between the marketing department, the tech people, and the C-Suite. And don’t let “CFO” in the title fool you, any busy executive can get tremendous benefit.

Link Building Strategies for DIY SEOs

Link-building plays a vital role in the success of a business. But it’s a time-consuming process that requires:

  • Knowledge
  • Skill
  • Patience

Here’s the thing:

By using the right strategies, it doesn’t have to be complicated:

Keep reading to find out more:

The Role Backlinks Play In SEO

Backlinks have been an important part of SEO since 1998. The best way to look at backlinks is to think of them as votes for the site.

The more votes a page has pointing to it, the more Google deems the content worthy of taking the number one spot.

When the backlink algorithm was first introduced, it used to be a case of the number of links a page had. But this resulted in people spamming links wherever they could. Luckily times have changed now, and it’s about the quality of the links instead of the quantity.

Diagram of Google's Backlink Trends

Link placements need to be well planned. Without relevance, the link could cause damage that outweighs the benefit.

3x High Converting Link Building Strategies

As mentioned earlier, link building strategies have stood the test of time; this means there’s plenty of actionable strategies to be used.

Three strategies stand out above the rest. These techniques are super easy to complete but also have a considerable win rate:

Replicate Your Competitors Backlinks

This has to be on the list for the top link building strategies for a few reasons.

To start with, the top-ranking competitors in the same niche will be spending thousands of dollars trying to create the perfect backlink profile. And this means it’s super hard for the small fish to compete against them without a lot of hard work and a ton of cash.

Unless the business replicates its competitor’s backlink profile.

In essence, it’s all about working smarter, not harder.

When comparing the win-rate with the overall time spent on it, it’s easy to see why this strategy is so effective.

Here’s how it works:

Identify The Competitors

The first step is to identify the top sites for the chosen keyword. Doing this is super easy and only requires a quick Google search.

Just enter the chosen keyword into Google and make a list of the competitors on the first page. Don’t worry about how big their site is, all that’s needed is their backlink profile.

Find Their Backlinks

Once the list of competitors has been identified, it’s time to find their backlinks, which can be done using tools such as Majestic, Moz, or Ahrefs. In this article, we’ll be using Ahrefs for our examples.

In Ahrefs, enter the first URL into the Ahrefs site explorer and hit the search button.

Once the page has loaded, go to the left-hand side menu and click on ‘Backlinks’. You’ll then see a full list of sites linking to that page. Export the list of backlinks on to an excel sheet and do the same for the other targets.

Analyze Their Backlinks

This part can take some time; the idea is to get rid of all the spammy looking links, so all that’s left is high quality and relevant linking opportunities.

Once that’s complete, it’s about finding out how they got the link and how it can be replicated.

Once a solid understanding of the link has been found, it’s time to reach out to the site owner to score the link.

Provide Testimonials

This has to be one of the easiest and least time-consuming link-building strategies. With just a few hours of work, it’s possible to score high-quality links pointing directly to the businesses homepage.

Gael Breton quote and example of link placement

This strategy aims to offer a positive testimonial for a product/service the business uses in return for a link.

Here’s a step by step guide for finding testimonial links:

Identify The Targets

This stage is about thinking of services/products that are relevant to the site, or that it’s used before.

The chosen products and services all need one thing in common for this strategy to work, and that’s an existing testimonials page or evidence that they publish testimonials on their homepage.

Create a list of possible opportunities in an excel sheet ready for the next step.

Pitch To The Right People

Finding the right people to pitch to can seem like a challenge at the best of times. Luckily there are a few tools that can be used to find their emails quickly:

  • Hunter.io
  • FindThatLead

These tools will provide a list of emails connected to the site. Making it really easy to find the right person to pitch to.

FindThatLead Screen capture

Once the emails have been found, it’s time to pitch to the sites and see if they’re interested.

Write Their Testimonial

Once they’ve got back to you and accepted the offer, it’s time to write the testimonials. Writing the perfect testimonial is super easy, especially if you’ve tried the product or service and can write from first-hand experience. Just make sure it includes things like:

  • Description of how the tool/product/service helped
  • The best part of the service
  • A personal recommendation
  • Results

If the testimonial contains these four things, it’s ready to go.

Guest Posting (It Really Does Work!)

Guest posting is the most popular way of building links to a page, and for a good reason, it’s super simple and very effective.

By now I’m sure you’ve heard SEOs debating whether a guest post is a white hat or black hat technique.

In the end, does it really matter?

Google only wants to see the right metrics for the site, and smart guest posting does just that.

The idea behind guest posting is to create a high-quality piece of content with a link pointing to the page that needs ranking.

Here’s how that works:

Find Target Sites

The first thing is to find sites that will accept a guest article. The ideal website would have a high domain authority and traffic.

For this, head to Google and try searching for terms like those listed here:

list of keywords to publish guest posts with

These will show thousands of potential targets to outreach too. Don’t focus too much on the authority or traffic just yet.

The purpose of this step is to find targets for a guest post.

Choosing The Right Blogs

Once a list of targets has been created, it’s time to see if they’re worth the time linking too. To do this, tools like Ahrefs come in very handy.

Enter the site in question into the Ahrefs site explorers search bar. It will then take you to a page which shows the Domain Rating (DR) of the sites.

If the DR is high for that niche keep it on the list, if low with little to no traffic, delete it, along with any spammy looking sites that are just obvious link farms.

Pitching The Sites

Once the site has been qualified, it’s time to pitch out to the site owner. Again finding the emails with the tools mentioned in the previous section, it takes seconds.

Make sure pitches are unique to the site, it’s the best way of getting a response. Don’t get disheartened if they don’t message back the first time.

Chances are they are super busy and receive A LOT of emails. Send a couple of follow-ups before moving to the next email.

Create Stunning Content

Once the site owner has accepted the terms, it’s time to start writing the content. The most important thing to include is the link back to the page.

But that’s not all, they should also include:

  • Links pointing to their site (internal links)
  • Quotes with backup links (other external links)
  • Images/videos

Make sure the content contains as much value as possible and more importantly keeps their audience in mind.

BONUS: Mention Monitoring

There were only supposed to be three link building strategies in this article, but this was too good to leave out.

This strategy works best for people that already have a respected brand in their niche.

If the brand is already well known, there’s a good chance someone has mentioned it in an article.

But here’s the thing:

Sometimes people forget to link to the site they’ve mentioned, which is something that can be fixed quickly. Just follow these simple steps:

Find Blogs That Mention Your Brand

Use Google’s search command to find sites that mention the brand. This can be done by searching variations of:

“horizonwebmarketing.com”-inurl:horizonwebmarketing.com/

This will return a list of URLs mentioning the domain of this site, but not the page from the blog.

example of inurl: search engine results

Here’s a pro tip:

Make sure to play around with the site name in your searches, it’s incredible how many people can misspell the site’s name.

The sites to look for are ones:

  • With broken links
  • Which lead to a 404
  • Or which mention the blog with no link

If any sites in the search engine results have any of these problems add them to an excel sheet.

Reach Out

Again this all about reaching out to the right people. Once the email address has been found, it’s time to pitch the idea to them.

For maximum effect, make sure the outreach is unique to the site, if it isn’t, chances are it will get ignored.

But most importantly, don’t forget to send follow up emails if they don’t reply.

Can You Trust Link Building Services?

Link building campaigns take a lot of time and cause a lot of stress. So it’s understandable why people are turning to link building services.

But can they be trusted?

In all honesty, this industry can be real shady at times. The amount of sites that get penalized due to shoddy link building services is scary.

The thing is:

Spammy and low DR links can kill a site… quickly.

And with so many link building services out there, it’s easy to get burnt.

On the other hand, they can be a godsend. Think about it.

The amount of time it takes to launch a full link building campaign is huge. But link building services make it easy.

They already have an extensive database of sites that accept links. And if they’re good the sites will be risk-free of penalization.

To find a link building service that’s trustworthy, a lot of research needs to be done thoroughly. One such service we’ve found that does the hard work is matthewwoodward.co.uk.

Rounding Up

It’s almost certain that link building will play a vital role in SEO for years to come, which is why it’s beneficial to jump on the train now.

There are tons of link building strategies out there that work. But the ones covered here far outperform them all.

And if time is lacking, it might be time to call in the experts. Link building services can provide quick, quality, natural links to a page.

Happy link building!

(Do you have a favorite link building technique we haven’t covered? Or…have you had an experience with a link builder that’s hurt your domain with shady links? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.)

 

Question: How Do I Add My Business to Google?

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“Google My Business A to Z” – The Complete Course Is Now Live

Ross BarefootRoss Barefoot got his start in small business managing an importing company in the bicycle industry.  While there, he tried his hand at programming to find more effective ways to track, market and sell his company’s range of bicycle parts. He loved the web marketing side of things so much he became a professional […]

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New! A Free Google My Business Workshop from the Horizon Web Marketing Academy

All About Our Google My Business, Free SEO Workshop Training

The Short version

  • Even voice search like Google Assistant or Siri relies on Google Search, so
  • If your business is invisible in Google, it’s invisible
  • Google has every business in its database, somewhere
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Sign up here for the Grand Junction evening workshop. Wednesday, November 13th at 7pm.
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The Full Version

How successful will you be in a local business if no one knows about you, or if they can’t find you?
 
No business can succeed if it can’t connect with potential customers. Gone are the days when that connection came through the local Yellow Pages.
 
People look for local retailers and service providers in a bunch of different ways, but they all seem to be driven by the Internet and, usually, by Google.

Think of voice search. Someone with a clogged drain, or looking for a Japanese restaurant, or searching for the best deal on gardening equipment, are increasingly likely to speak that into their mobile phone.

“Hey Google, what’s a good plumber near me?”
“Siri, where’s the closest restaurant that serves sushi?”
“Alexa, where can I buy cheap gardening equipment?”

If someone is using Siri or Google’s voice assistant, their voice question is turned into a Google search. The Google results are then interpreted by the auditory response the questioner hears. (If they are searching on Alexa or Cortana the search is handled by Bing.)

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Whether a person is looking for what you have to offer on their computer, by typing into their phone, or even by speaking a question to a digital voice assistant, whether you reach that customer depends on whether Google or Bing know about your business and consider it relevant to what they want.

This brings us to “Google My Business.”

Google’s goal is to index (which is another word for saying “to catalog”) every business on planet earth. They most likely have your business in their index, whether you’ve helped them or not. The management tool for refining the information that Google has about every business is called “Google My Business.”

Using Google My Business, a business owner can manage the information about their business that Google has. This is important because Google gets things wrong about businesses all the time. Wrong address, wrong phone, wrong mapping location, wrong business category, etc.

The only way that you can make sure Google’s information on your business is accurate is by checking it and making changes where you need to. You do that using Google My Business

You may already have done this…or started to! You may already know a bit about Google My Business. But did you know that there are things you can do within Google My Business that will significantly increase your chances of being seen by your ideal customer?

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This, in turn, brings us to Optimizing Google My Business, and this free workshop

The world of Google My Business is constantly changing. In fact, it changes so fast that even professionals have a hard time keeping up. For example, in my role as an SEO consultant and trainer, I spend at least an hour every day monitoring changes to Google’s methods and learning new ways of taking advantage of, or protecting my clients from, those changes.

Now you can hire me on an hourly basis, but my time is, frankly, too expensive for most small businesses. This means that most small businesses have to take responsibility for their own “SEO.” If you’re in that boat, you need to know at least enough to make sure you have your ducks in a row so that you don’t lose out to competitors.

We’ve designed the business training at the Horizon Web Marketing Academy to help people just like you succeed in doing the basics of SEO yourself — even with limited time, and limited technical knowledge — without hiring a high-priced SEO agency. In some cases, our “low cost” training is even free.

This is one of those free opportunities that really has value

The workshop we’ve designed, and that I’m blogging about right now, is not some 2-hour sales pitch. In fact, if you look at the training videos I’ve posted on Horizon’s YouTube channel, you can see that they are not heavily focused on sales (probably not focused enough on sales, between you and me).

This workshop will show you the key steps in engaging with Google My Business and optimizing your own business listing for success.

When you are done you will have the knowledge and confidence to make sure you have done right by your business and set yourself up for the visibility you deserve when people look — however they look — for what you have to offer.

Why are we doing a Free SEO Workshop like this?

It’s simple. We believe that the best customers are found when a business is generous. For us, being generous means that we share some of our knowledge and experience without charging you every time we do.

Of course, (to state the obvious) we hope that when you get acquainted with the knowledge and experience that we have to offer, you’ll be interested in our other consulting and training services. Either way, you’ll come out ahead, we promise!

Sign up here for the Grand Junction evening workshop. Wednesday, November 13th at 7pm.
Sign up here for the Grand Junction Saturday morning workshop. Saturday, November 16th at 10am.